These Tulum-Inspired Massage Studios Are All About Body Positivity

Tulum-inspired decor at Massage Outpost in DUMBO.
Tulum-inspired decor at Massage Outpost in DUMBO. | © Massage Brooklyn
Photo of Esme Benjamin
Wellness Editor30 October 2018

A Brooklyn massage company, which opened its third location in DUMBO this month, is about much more than spa-like indulgence.

The term ‘self-care‘ is a divisive one. For some it’s interchangeable with selfishness – an excuse to put commitments and responsibilities on hold and indulge yourself. But at one Brooklyn-based massage company, which defines itself as body-positive, self-care offerings are much more than extravagant pampering. They’re a way for all people to receive essential therapeutic touch.

“I never want someone’s self-esteem to get in the way of them getting a massage,” founder Rachel Beider explains. “There’s a lot of reasons people avoid doing things that are physical with their bodies […] We have clients who are disabled, we have clients who are considered obese, we have clients who have been through trauma and clients who identify as trans. It’s always been very important to me that regardless of who you are and what you look like you can come and get really good [body] work.”

After being employed by spas, chiropractic offices and yoga studios – and finding them somewhat lacking – Beider decided to launch her own business, Massage Williamsburg. A decade later she has two more locations: Massage Greenpoint and the recently opened Massage Outpost in DUMBO. Each space is clean, white-walled and plant-filled (a nod to Tulum, Mexico – Beider’s favorite vacation spot).

Rachel Beider, LMT. Founder of Massage Brooklyn. | © Massage Brooklyn

Beider’s concern for the diverse needs of individual bodies is clear from the service menu. Case in point: the Moon Cycle Massage. Designed for women on or around the date of their periods, it incorporates the use of a heated pillow filled with organic flax and lavender to soothe cramps, rose geranium massage oil (said to balance hormones, according to the ancient Indian healing system Ayurveda), and some firm lower back work. Like all massages at the studio, it’s designed to relieve pain and discomfort in a clinical, almost chiropractic way.

“You don’t just want someone to rub oil on you – you can do that yourself,” she explains. “All our therapists have a high degree of palpation, which means they can feel what’s happening and then respond to it appropriately […] Our sessions are a little bit different because we tailor them for what our clients need. That’s why we don’t charge differently for a technique like Swedish versus deep tissue – people typically need a combination of the both depending on what’s going on for them.”

But that’s not to say the treatments aren’t also incredibly pampering. Every palm-stroke finds the right groove. Every knot melts under fingertips. Even the smaller, forgotten muscles, like the ones that expand and contract with the ribs, get love and attention. That palpation is definitely detectible.

“Bodies hold onto stress and I think it’s really important to be able to come get a massage and feel really good,” Beider says. “My thought is, if we’re going to charge what we do [$120 for 60 minutes] it needs to be phenomenally good. I want people to have the best massage they’ve ever had, every time.”

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